Top 10 Most Expensive Photographs Ever

By Geoff Harris


1. Andreas Gursky: 'Rhine II', 1999


Christie’s in New York, November 2011

The artist wanted to capture an “accurate image of a modern river” but openly admits to digitally removing unsightly features such as  people, dogs and even a factory.


2. Cindy Sherman: ‘Untitled’, 1981


Christie's in May. 2011

Cindy Sherman’s self portrait, dressed as a retro adolescent surprised many as Christies had originally valued it at $1.5-$2 million. Addition 10/10 was bought by New York art dealer Philippe Segolet and the under bidder was per Skarstedt

Andreas_Gursky-04 .jpg

3. Andreas Gursky: "99 Cent II Diptychon" , 2001

£1,700,000 ($3,346,456)

Sotheby's London , February 2007

The sale was a milestone in the Art market, as it was not only held the record for several years as  the most expensive photography ever sold, but also almost triplicated the auction record for a contemporary photography



4. Edward Steichen: " The pond - moonlight", 1904


Sotheby's New York , February 2006

The 41cm - 50 cm . photograph,  was previously in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, owner of another of the three copies of the work

Untitled (Cowboy)

5. Richard Prince: " Untitled (cowboy)", 1989


Christie's New York , November 2005

This modern cowboy is one of the most famous Works by one of the masters of the contemporary photography.

113, Athènes, Temple de Jupiter olympien pris de l'est (1842), Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey

6. Joseph Philibert Girault de Prangey: " 113 Athènes, Temple de Júpiter ", 1842

£500,000 ($922,488)

Christie's London , May 20th 2003

Girault de Prangey was a French draughtsman and photographer whose works are extremely valuable as they are the earliest surviving visual documents of archaeological places such as Syria or the Acropolis

1. The Great Wave (Sète)

7. Gustave Le Gray: " The Great Wave, Sete", 1857


Sotheby's London , October 1999

Le Gray is arguably the most important French photographer of the 19th Century. This beautiful work was previously in the Jammes Collection until it was auctioned by Sotheby's


8. Robert Mapplethorpe: "Andy Warhol" 1987


Sotheby's New York , October 2006

American artist Robert Mapplethorpe is one of the key figures in the contemporary photograph, portraying personages such as Patti Smith, Peter Gabriel or Andy Warhol. The work portraying Warhol was created 2 years before Mapplethorpe's death after complications arising from AIDS .


9. Ansel Adams: Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico, 1948


Sotheby's New York , October 2006

Adams is one of the masters of the 20th century photograph, creator of the "zone system" and famous for his stunning views of the American Southwest

8 - Untitled 5 de Andreas Gursky

10. Andreas Gursky: " Untitled 5" , 1997


Christie's London, February 2002

A typical work by Gursky, depicting a shoe shop. Five years later, another work by Gursky was sold for nearly 6 times the sum paid for this photo

Geoff Harris

I am a journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill and Steve McCurry. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time. In addition I write about well being/personal development and antiques collecting for a range of other titles, including BlueWings, the in-flight magazine of Finn Air.

Stay inspired

Get FREE Photography tips and ideas from our experts in your inbox.

You can unsubscribe at any time


Related posts

Our best selling courses

Trusted by our partners